The Newcastle supporters were very clear in their message on Sunday night – Steve Bruce cannot continue as Magpies boss.
On a day of celebration at St James’ Park following the exit of Mike Ashley and the arrival of the Saudi-led consortium promising a new dawn on Tyneside, Newcastle’s 3-2 defeat to Tottenham showed the monumental clean-up job the new Magpies owners are tasked with.
Many predicted that Sunday’s league clash with Spurs would be Bruce’s final match in charge and the 60-year-old did himself no favours, as Newcastle’s defence crumbled and the defensive holes widened despite taking the lead early on.
Chants of ‘We Want Bruce Out’ emanated from the St James’ Park terraces, with Bruce adopting the image of a dead man walking on the sidelines.
So with Bruce edging towards the chop at Newcastle, just who would come in when that decision is made?
At the top of the bookies shortlist is former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who has been out of a job since January following his sacking at Stamford Bridge.
The 43-year-old has remained away from the game since then, with his only influence in football being via punditry work at the Euro 2020 tournament over the summer, with recent reports linking Lampard to St James’ Park.
Sportsmail revealed shortly after the Newcastle takeover that the new Saudi-led consortium want Premier League experience in Bruce’s replacement and Lampard certainly has that.
The former Chelsea and England midfielder guided the Blues – under a transfer embargo at the time of his appointment – to a top-four finish in his first top-flight season in management, showing he can get the best out of any group of players quickly.
Lampard has also been entrusted with great riches in his career before, with Chelsea improving his squad with £250m worth of talent 12 months ago, and while the club legend was sacked mid-season, the Blues did go on to win the Champions League.
Family ties also connect Lampard to a role in Newcastle’s new dawn. The former England star’s cousin is fellow former professional Jamie Redknapp, who is close friends with new club director Jamie Rueben, who has a 10 per cent stake in the club.
Alongside Lampard at the top of the bookies’ shortlist is former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre, who Sportsmail revealed was under consideration for the head coach role last week.
The Swiss manager has been out of a job since December of last year after a poor run of form at the Ruhr-land club. Favre failed to take Dortmund any closer to perennial German giants Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga hierarchy, with the Super Cup in 2019 the coach’s only piece of silverware gained at the club.
As Sportsmail revealed over the summer, the 63-year-old was close to becoming the new Crystal Palace head coach earlier this year – but a sudden change of heart saw him drop out of the running, with Patrick Vieira taking over.
Favre has managed big players with hefty salaries before, having coached the likes of Erling Haaland, Mario Balotelli and Jadon Sancho in the past – but his greatest successes have involved the development of younger players at his previous clubs.
Just behind Lampard and Favre on the bookies shortlist is former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca, who has also been touted as a future Magpies boss by reports.
The Portuguese coach has been out of a job since the summer when he was sacked by the Italian club, but – as Sportsmail revealed – was very close to taking over as Tottenham boss over the summer.
Fonseca agreed terms with Daniel Levy’s club, but Spurs appointed sporting director Fabio Paratici in the middle of the hiring process, with the Italian recruitment chief pulling the plug on the deal at the very last minute.
The 48-year-old head coach is known for his exciting style of attacking football, which would please the disgruntled Magpies supporters – and while he failed to win any silverware at Roma, he did enjoy success at Shakhtar Donetsk, where he won three Ukrainian titles.
Next on the list is Rangers boss Steven Gerrard at 15/2, who led the Scottish giants to their first league title in a decade earlier this year.
The Newcastle post would be the 41-year-old’s first ever Premier League job but the Liverpool legend has been tipped as a future top-class coach in the making, so the Magpies may not get many better chances to hire Gerrard than this one.
The Rangers boss refused to rule out a move to Newcastle when asked about his future last week. Reports in Scotland have claimed that his could be Gerrard’s final season at Ibrox.
‘I think it’s interesting, what’s happening at Newcastle,’ said the former England captain. ‘I think if anyone deserves a break it’s the Geordie fans. So I’m sure that excitement levels are very high down on the Toon.
‘And obviously everyone connected with the game is looking in with interest, to see how that develops. But from a personal point of view, I don’t really get involved in speculation. And I wish Steve Bruce all the best.’
Alongside Gerrard on the bookies’ shortlist is Villarreal boss Unai Emery, who is currently in his second season of managing the Spanish side after his Europa League triumph last season.
Emery has worked with similar type of owners to Newcastle’s before, having held the head coach role at Paris Saint-Germain when they signed Neymar and Kylian Mbappe during the same transfer window.
The Spanish head coach guided PSG to the treble during his two seasons in Paris and while his reputation was tainted with a failed stint at Arsenal, Emery does have a good track record of success in the domestic and European game.
Whether the 49-year-old would leave Villarreal, however, is yet to be seen. The Spaniard currently has cult hero status at the Castellon club, having guided the Yellow Submarine to their first ever major honour last season.
The final big name on the bookies’ shortlist is Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, who teased that he may not continue in his national team role earlier this month.
The Red Devils have endured a difficult calendar year which saw them knocked out at the Euro 2020 quarter-finals stage by eventual winners Italy, before being beaten in the Nations League semi-final by France.
With many deeming Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ of players to be ending soon, Martinez hinted that ‘many circumstances’ could take him away from the Belgium post.
He said this month: ‘I get up every morning as if I were working for Belgium until the last day of my contract, but I realise that many circumstances can happen along the way.’
However, Martinez is also strongly linked with the head coach’s role at Barcelona, with Ronald Koeman holding a similar job status to Bruce at the Camp Nou. The former Everton and Wigan manager is close friends with Barcelona chief Jordi Cruyff as well.
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is also high up on the list but Sportsmail exclusively revealed last week that the Northern Irishman is not pursuing the Magpies role as he is eyeing up the Manchester City job in two years’ time.
City boss Pep Guardiola announced earlier this year that he will quit the Manchester club in 2023, with Rodgers determined to put himself forward for that role after re- establishing the Foxes as European regulars with his attacking brand of football.
Former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte is high up on the bookmakers’ candidates list and is also a free agent, but reports have distanced the Italian from the head coach role at St James’ Park.